Lost and Gone

Field & Stream|Volume 125, Issue 1 - 2020

Lost and Gone
WHEN TWO HIGH-SCHOOL BUDDIES LOSE THEIR WAY IN A BACKWATER SLOUGH, CAN THEY, AND THEIR DREAMS, SURVIVE?
SCOTT BESTUL

HUGH JOHNSON WAS A good-looking, athletic kid, the kind that people of all stripes are naturally drawn to. I was his hunting and trapping partner. And unlike anyone else around me during high school in Davenport, Iowa, Hughie made me believe that life was wide-open, full of adventure and risk—even a little danger.

One cold October night during our senior year, around a warming fire on the backwaters of the Mississippi, he’d prove it—not just to me and our whole class, but to the entire town and beyond.

It started as nothing more than an after-school duck hunt, a simple jump-shooting loop through the Mississippi River bottoms, beginning at the WMA parking lot. But after a while, one slough began to look like another, and as dusk began to threaten an already gray sky, I realized I had no clue how to get back to the car.

“Do you know where we are?” I asked Hughie.

He sniffed and shrugged. “Um, yeah… I got this, man.”

I knew perfectly well that on our adventures Hughie brought the enthusiasm, and I brought the woodsmanship.

“Are you sure?” I asked. “We should start backtracking while there’s light enough to see stuff we’ve passed.”

“Nah, that’ll take too long,” he said. “Let me lead for 20 minutes, and we’ll find something to line us out before dark.”

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Volume 125, Issue 1 - 2020